Mining Skills Shortage to Be More Acute by 2020


". . .the skills shortage in the mining industry cannot be solved in the short term."

The full impact of the global skills crisis on the South African engineering industry will be compounded by 2020 owing to the aging professionals within the industry, reports executive search firm Landelahni.

The average age of a professional within the industry is 5055 years.

Landelahni CEO Sandra Bur-meister reports that this phenomenon is not unique to South Africa.

"Research in Canada showed that 40% of the mining workforce is likely to retire over the next 10 years and that an additional 81,000 skilled people will be required to meet current and future industry needs owing to retirements," says Burmeister.

Australia showed a similar trend, with skilled jobs in the mining industry doubling within the next 10 years to 215,000. In 2005, the U.S. Society of Mining Engineers reported that 58% of industry members were over the age of 50.

There are a number of industry initiatives in place to resolve the skills crisis, however Bur-meister feels the industry is lacking a strategic long-term approach to the skills quandary.

"Skills development in South Africa is currently demand-driven and focuses on the short term. However, the skills shortage in the mining industry cannot be solved in the short term. It requires long-term strategies from mining companies and the State to ensure adequate funding of education and research," says Burmeister.

Another problem within the South African mining industry is the migration of skills. A minute percentage of mining engineering graduates, 15%, join the industry in South Africa rather than opting for lucrative dollar-based international contracts.

"A comprehensive graduate talent acquisition plan, beginning with a proactive graduate recruitment program to identify and hire graduates, linked to an effective on-boarding and mentorship program is required," says Bur-meister.

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